Washington, D.C.-area lecture examines the Battle of Jephthah (Judges 11)
On Wednesday, December 17, 2014, the Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) will host the lecture “Ammonites v Israelites: Battle of Jephthah (Judges 11)” by Dr. Elizabeth Bloch-Smith of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
The Biblical account of the Ammonites’ war with Israel invokes as the casus belli earlier entanglements with the Moabites and Amorites. This text, considered misinformed or confused by Biblical commentators, is clarified by archaeological evidence. Changing geo-politics, homonyms and two cities with the same name conspired to conflate two time periods and historical contexts. The clarified text illustrates both Israel’s combative relations with the neighboring kingdoms and the need to revise literary texts to explain contemporary events which fashion the history of Israel.
“Ammonites v Israelites: Battle of Jephthah (Judges 11),”
presented by Dr. Elizabeth Bloch-Smith
Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington (JCCGW)
Dec. 17, 2014, at 8 p.m.
6125 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD 20852
Reservations are not required. Fees per lecture are: $5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, high school students and co-sponsors; $8 – BASONOVA & JCCGW members; $10 – the general public. For more information, please contact [email protected].
For more Washington, D.C.-area lectures, visit the Biblical Archaeology Society of Northern Virginia and Biblical Archaeology Forum websites.
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Judges 12:1-6 goes on…The E’phraimites took umbrage of Jephthah’s battle and subsequent slaughter of the Ammonites and told Jephthah that “We will burn your house down over you with fire.” ( My guess is that they were looking for a share in the spoils of victory after the fact since they refused Jephthah’s plea for help with the Gileadite’s great feud with Ammonites.) With the classic military tactic of fade and retreat, the Gileadites drew the E’phraimites across the Jordan well beyond their lines of supplies and support and there slew them. When what was left of the E’phraimite army tried to retreat back across the Jordan saying “Let me go over.” the Gileadites holding all the fords asked them “Art thou an E’phraimite?” If any said “Na” the soldiers then said “Say now Shibboleth.” and the retreating E’phraimites said “Sibboleth” for they could not frame/pronounce the “sh” sound in their own dialect. Thereupon they were all slain, by Biblical accounts, some 42,000. This brings to mind El Corte – The Cutting or The Parsley Massacre of 1937 where Trujillo of the Dominican Republic perpetrated that great carnage against Haiti. D.R. troops confronted the Black farmers that lived and farmed high up in the mountains over, on or even suspected of being near the border between the two countries. The soldiers held up a sprig of parsley and asked the farmers “Como se llama esto?” What is this called?” If they said pe’sil instead of perejil they were slaughtered with a machete, bayonet or club. The Haitians had a difficult time pronouncing the trilled “R” and the death toll exceeded 15,000. As an aside, today, shibboleth means any catch word that serves to distinguish one group of men from another…this was used to great effect by the Marines in the Pacific during WWII by using words that started with an “L” for pass-words, for the same obvious reasons.
Ammonites Threaten War. For 18 years oppression by the Ammonites continued. This was permitted by God because the Israelites had unfaithfully turned to serving the gods of the nations round about. But now the sons of Israel were brought to their senses, repenting of their folly and calling on Jehovah for help. They began to do away with their idols and to serve Jehovah. At this point Ammon gathered together in Gilead for large-scale warfare. (Jg 10:7-17; 11:4) This fact indicates that it was actually the great invisible enemy of God, Satan the Devil, who incited the pagan nations against Israel and that the real issue was worship of the true God.—Compare Re 12:9; Ps 96:5; 1Co 10:20.
Jephthah, a man of action, lost no time in exercising vigorous leadership. He sent a message to the king of Ammon, pointing out that Ammon was the aggressor in invading Israel’s land. The king replied that it was land Israel had taken from Ammon. (Jg 11:12, 13) Here Jephthah showed himself to be, not a mere rough, uncultured warrior, but a student of history and particularly of God’s dealings with his people. He refuted the Ammonite argument, showing that (1) Israel did not molest Ammon, Moab, or Edom (Jg 11:14-18; De 2:9, 19, 37; 2Ch 20:10, 11); (2) Ammon had not possessed the disputed land at the time of the Israelite conquest, because it was in the hands of the Canaanite Amorites and God had given their king, Sihon, and his land into Israel’s hand; (3) Ammon had not disputed Israel’s occupation for the past 300 years; therefore, on what valid basis could they do so now?—Jg 11:19-27.
Jephthah got at the heart of the matter when he showed that the issue revolved around the matter of worship. He declared that Jehovah God had given Israel the land and that for this reason they would not give an inch of it to worshipers of a false god. He called Chemosh the god of Ammon. Some have thought this to be an error. But, although Ammon had the god Milcom, and though Chemosh was a god of Moab, those related nations worshiped many gods. Solomon even wrongly brought the worship of Chemosh into Israel because of his foreign wives. (Jg 11:24; 1Ki 11:1, 7, 8, 33; 2Ki 23:13) Furthermore, “Chemosh” may mean “Subduer, Conqueror,” according to some scholars. (See Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, translated by S. Tregelles, 1901, p. 401.) Jephthah may have called attention to this god as being given credit by the Ammonites for ‘subduing’ or ‘conquering’ others and giving them land.
Great RE: Chris !
Maybe the Dr. should start the conf. with an old J. Buffet tune ” A white sport-coat and a Pink Crustacean ” ! 😉
Because it was easier than fighting non-extinct shellfish?
Why were the Israelites fighting extinct shellfish?